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Sep 22, 2019 - 9:44:54 PM
1 posts since 9/22/2019

Hi all- This is my first post. I am an intermediate acoustic guitar player but I have always loved the sound of the banjo. How does the amount of finger pressure necessary to fret banjo chords compare to the guitar? It took several months before I could comfortably fret the guitar. Does the banjo require more, less or equal amounts of pressure to play clean chords? Thanks in advance!

Sep 23, 2019 - 3:46:14 AM

167 posts since 10/26/2008

Banjo chords are much easier to fret imo..lighter strings, lots of partial chords

Sep 23, 2019 - 4:29:06 AM

Texasbanjo (Moderator)


23287 posts since 8/3/2003

Banjo strings are much easier to fret, less pressure but..... the banjo neck is much narrower than the guitar and that might take some getting used to. Also, most guitar pickers have a problem getting used to the 5th string on the banjo. Once you get past those two differences, you'll probably forge ahead quickly.

Sep 23, 2019 - 5:22:37 AM
likes this

1865 posts since 12/31/2005

Why not post your location. There may be a picker in your area who would be happy to sit down with you, let you pick on a banjo, and explain some of the basics so you can see how it feels. The responses you got above are spot on. I would add that banjo chords seem less cramped than guitar chords.   The banjo is typically tuned in an open key (G), unlike the guitar.  If you can make barre chords on a guitar, there is nothing on the banjo that is going to be too hard for you.  For the major chords, there are basically three left hand positions (including a barre chord, how easy is that?).   The other two positions (basically an inversion of each other) are not that difficult to learn.  Once you have those, moving up and down the neck and finding chord positions becomes relatively easy.  Even with minor chords, there are basically two positions, each of which is relatively easy.  6th and 7th chords typically are a barre chord with the pinky added to the first string a couple of frets up.  You don't want to be on your deathbed some day like countless millions before you wishing you had learned to play the banjo.  Do it!

Edited by - Brian Murphy on 09/23/2019 05:28:52

Sep 23, 2019 - 11:26:04 AM

95 posts since 8/25/2009

Another reason it's easier is because there are only four (occasionally five) string to fret. For those of us with <6 fingers this can make a difference :)

I might also suggest you consider a guitar-banjo. The advantage is this would give you the banjo sound (or at least some of it), without requiring any new learning. The disadvantage is that you would not benefit from the unique capabilities provided by the fifth string, and much of the banjo music/ tablature would be useless.

Welcome and keep on pickin'


Sep 23, 2019 - 12:31:07 PM

14300 posts since 12/2/2005

lorenl, welcome. I've played guitar for more than fifty years. These days, I play the banjo almost exclusively - and when I pick up my guitar (even though it's a good 'un) it feels like I'm trying to fret barbed wire into a 2 X 12 plank.

The banjo has much lower string tension and a much narrower neck. Easy-peasy.

Edited by - eagleisland on 09/23/2019 12:31:31

Sep 24, 2019 - 8:13:39 AM

1235 posts since 2/10/2013

IMHO the biggest problem instrumentalists who are already competent guitar/fiddle/mandolin players have are mental. Because of their playing skills, they expect to learn how to play and instrument very quickly. Granted, there are some cases where their knowledge will be very helpful. But they will also will encounter techniques they are not familiar with. And, they find it uncomfortable making noise instead of music. At jams, members want them to play the instruments they play well, and that makes developing ones ability to play more difficult.

So basically, don't overestimate the value of what you already know. You must be patient because you won't learn every thing in a short period of time.
I don't think left hand work will be a problem. But if you are just a flatpicker on the guitar instead of a fingerpicker, the right/picking hand will be your main problem. The right/picking hand fingers/wrist must develop muscle. All of the really good banjo players I have encountered had very strong picking fingers/wrists.

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